5 Evidence Based Reading Comprehension Strategies

Understanding the idea behind the text is just as important…

A woman reading a book while sitting on black leather 3-seat couch
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Understanding the idea behind the text is just as important as learning how to read. Developing a child’s reading comprehension skills is important because it is the foundation for literacy. These evidence based reading comprehension strategies are especially helpful for struggling readers.

But before we delve into these strategies, we first need to understand how the brain learns to read and how reading disabilities manifest.

How Does The Brain Learn to Read?

Unlike speech, reading is not a natural part of child development.

Learning to read involves two neural streams: 

  • The dorsal stream (which is what is responsible for the visual detection and analysis of text). 
  • The ventral stream (which maps out the context for the newly read word). 

The ventral stream coordinates with the dorsal stream in a special arrangement. Synchronizing these two streams makes reading effortless both when you know the material and when you read the material for the first time. 

Reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, manifest when there are specific differences in the ventral and dorsal streams of the brain. Disruptions in the ventral stream cause dyslexia. This disruption impedes the ability to identify speech sounds and associate them with letters and words. 

The structured literacy approach is one of the most effective education models because it emphasizes the fundamentals of literacy. Students practice associating text with sounds through this approach.

What is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is the capacity to understand what you read. It is a function that engages both sides of the brain. The linear left side of the brain reads and interprets the text, while the nonlinear right side of the brain associates text with information. It is also how we derive meaning from text.

Reading comprehension is a foundational skill that directly impacts a person’s academic, social, and occupational success. It affects a student’s ability to comprehend the things taught at school. 

Evidence Based Reading Comprehension Strategies

1. Pair-Assisted Reading

Pair-assisted reading takes place when a teacher assigns two students to read together. One student reads aloud while the other student assumes a listener role. The listener may ask the reader questions related to the material.

Apart from the benefit of listening to a fluent reader, this approach also yields emotional and social benefits. It allows the listener (and the class) to learn more about the content through their questions.

According to this 2014 study, pair-assisted reading improves the reading accuracy and comprehension of both learner and mentor.

2. Decoding

Decoding is the ability to decode written words and letter patterns and translate them into correct letter-sound relationships. Students recognize familiar words quickly by identifying these patterns. This also helps them understand new words.

3. Modeling

Modeling is the process of giving a reader an idea of how a text is structured by demonstrating the reading process. Modeled reading occurs when the teacher reads the text aloud while the students listen. 

This provides students with an opportunity to focus on good reading behaviors. It also allows teachers to share their knowledge on how they analyze and interpret the text.

4. Repeated Reading

Periodically repeated reading helps students go over materials they have difficulty understanding. Repeated reading improves overall reading fluency.

5. Graphic Organizers

Besides being effective for vocabulary instruction, graphic organizers improve students’ reading comprehension by teaching them how to group information. Students will then identify the relationships between these groups. 

It helps improve reading comprehension by supporting the synchronization of the ventral and dorsal brain streams.


Reading comprehension allows us to draw conclusions and interpret text accurately. These evidence-based strategies have varying levels of effectiveness on different students. Try using them all to determine which approach suits your students best.

Frequently asked questions

What are three evidence based practices used in reading instruction?

Among EBRI’s best practices are the use of individual diagnostic assessments in order to determine reading levels and instructional priorities. The content is based on engaging topics and materials relevant to learners’ needs.

What are the 7 reading comprehension strategies?

Students should learn to read comprehension by employing the seven cognitive strategies of effective readers: activating, inferring, monitoring-clarifying, questioning, searching-selecting, summarizing, and visualizing-organizing.

Is guided reading an evidence-based practice?

Lastly, I want to include another great Tim Shanahan blog in its focus on guided reading – small group instruction IS evidence-based practice. So, it’s just fine to group students based on common skills gaps and tailor instruction to those areas. An evidence-based grouping of reading levels is lacking.

What are the strategies in developing reading fluency?

  • Listen to students reading aloud on their own.
  • Keep kids follow along with a ruler or finger to follow along.
  • Create a stress-free environment.
  • Pre-teach vocabulary
  • Try different fonts and text sizes.
  • You can borrow several books and materials.
  • Drill sight words
  • Read the same article several times.

What are 5 evidence based teaching strategies for teaching fluency?

  • Follow repeated reading routines.
  • Read connected text every day to ensure that reading is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent.
  • Acquire students’ ability to decode words.
  • Students should be able to read fluently.

Is Orton Gillingham evidence based?

Orton-Gillingham approaches are based on research, not on evidence. This distinction is important. Evidence-based programs have been used to examine the effectiveness of the program on the target population (typically in a randomized-controlled trial).

What is the best reading comprehension strategy?

Questioning. Students are also encouraged to ask questions about text as a way to help students understand the meaning of texts. Teaching can be helpful by showing both the process of asking good questions and strategies for finding the answers in the text.

What are evidence-based Tier 3 reading interventions?

Often, level 3 instruction focuses on phonemic awareness and decoding, particularly for younger students or those with limited reading proficiency. However, comprehension and vocabulary are also crucial (National Reading Panel (NRP), 2000).

What are some evidence based interventions for reading?

  • Repeated Reading
  • Fry’s Instant Sight Words Consistently.
  • Technology-Assisted Reading
  • Reading Time is increased by reading more independently.
  • Phonics and decoding in systems and sequences.
  • Reader’s Theater

What are the 5 reading comprehension strategies?

  • Questioning
  • Visualization
  • Summarizing
  • Analyzing text structure
  • Activating background knowledge. Research shows that better comprehension occurs when students are engaged in activities that bridge old knowledge with new ones.

What is an evidence-based literacy program?

Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction (EBLI) is an effective, efficient, systematic, and research-based system of explicit literacy instruction that is delivered through online, interactive training for classroom teachers and remediation educators.

What are the 3 main type of reading strategies?

Three types of academic texts may be read: skimming, scanning, and in-depth reading.

What is evidence based strategies for reading comprehension?

The reading comprehension strategies include directed reading-thinking activities, graphic and semantic organizers, highlighting, using imagination, K-W-L activity, KW-R-L Activity, and discussion to guide higher-order thinking skills. No training required.

What are the three best comprehension strategies?

  • How to activate and use background knowledge.
  • Summarizing
  • Comprehension Monitoring
  • Questions and Generating Questions.
  • Predicting
  • Visualizing
  • Making Inferences

What are some evidence based reading strategies for LD or reading difficulties?

Make sure they’re reading text on a level. Students should repeat short segments using the same voice. Students can record their voice when reading and listen back to it. Offer opportunities for repeat reading, reading the same text over and over as fluency develops.

5 Evidence Based Reading Comprehension Strategies

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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